New research suggests that ageing per se may be more related to reactions to stress rather than the stress it self or even chronological age.
Slowing the ageing process is a real possibility if chronic stress can be managed.
🧐🧐🧐 A review on how stress hormones affect the brain has identified strong evidence that biological and behavioural stress responses can have a positive or negative affect on brain cells.
👉That is, acute (short-term) stress appears to have a positive effect such as enhanced immune function and improved memory.
Short term stress is when you're working hard toward a positive outcome, like a promotion, a new job or passing an exam.
👉However, chronic stress has the opposite effect. It leads to immune suppression and disorders like depression, diabetes, cognitive impairment and even gains in body fat.
And it all comes down to telomeric activity.
Telo what? 😳😳😳
Constant (chronic) stress decreases telomerase activity which in turn promotes brain ageing and disease.
🔸 Telomeres are enzymes that regulate how many times an individual cell can divide. Telomeric sequences shorten each time the DNA replicates - a process that happens prior to cells dividing. When telomeres reach a critically short length, the cell stops dividing and dies (senesces) which is thought to contribute to different types of disease.
🧠 👀The brain is more involved in a person's stress response than previously thought. The brain interprets what is threatening, or stressful, whether it be an attempt at public speaking, or a new adventure, or a possible confrontation at the traffic lights because that idiot cut in front of you. The brain then regulates the cascade of behavioral and physiological responses via autonomic, immune and neuroendocrine systems.
However, if the brain is under too much stress for too long we can see structural and functional remodeling changes - telometric shortening that affects how the brain functions on a daily basis.
Now the good news...
🦹♀️ 🦹 🦹♂️ These effects on brain cells are able to be modulated in a positive way by lifestyle changes.
Exercise – vigorous activity is important but so is activity of lower intensity that promotes relaxation, this appears to be equally as important.
In heavy users of recreational drugs and even socially acceptable ones like alcohol, we see premature shortening of telomeres responsible for brain ageing. Therefore, avoiding dependance and excessive use of narcotics and recreational drugs prevents excessive damage that accelerates brain ageing.
💪 Strong social support is also an incredibly effective brain-health booster. Talking to friends and family is an evidence-based strategy that improve the chemical and physiological responses to stress. 🧔👱♀️👨🦲👩🦳
Not getting enough sleep, laughter as well as loneliness are all factors that really influence telometric shortening and the health of our brains.
While we can't avoid stress, it is a part of life, according to science it’s clear that how you react and cope with stress ultimately determines your health and longevity.
Binging on Trailer Park Boys or Tim Robinsons' I Think You Should Leave just might be the new telometric health-kick I needed.
Have a great week!
The Research: Clinical characterization of allostatic overload. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators: central role of the brain. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.
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